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Monday, June 4, 2012

Collapsible Market Tote

While I was looking for fun "Blanks" for embroidery designs, I ran across this market tote at Discount Embroidery Blanks. I wanted one but didn't like the limited color choices. Lo-and-behold the Sunday sale ads arrived. And what did I find? There, tucked away in the fiVeBELoW circular, was a Partiki collapsible market tote for only $5. I decided to risk the $10 and purchase two.


THE PROCESS: Once I got over the smell (these things are seriously toxic, so leave them outside once they are out of the package), I started planning. I decided to cut one apart to use as a pattern (and make my own bag). I kept the other one intact as a reference. still smells. I have to open a window.

This tore apart really easily - I guess that's why it was only $5. I removed the velcro (to reuse) then ripped out a few stitches, and just pulled. 

BONUS! The feet are screwed on, so I can reuse those!


Here it is all apart. I lightly pressed one of the sides but kept the other one as is, so I could refer to it if I needed to.

I got rid of their binding and used one package of Wrights Extra Wde Double Fold Bias Tape. And unlike the original, I put the binding at the top not at the bottom.
You might want to measure your bag pieces before you cut. Brands may differ in size and you might have to adjust accordingly.

I picked some home dec fabric (for both the exterior and the interior) and laid out my pattern pieces. 

1. Exterior sides: from exterior fabric and lightweight interfacing - cut 2 - 10" x 24 1/2"
2. Exterior bottom: from exterior fabric and Pellon Peltex (71F) - cut 1 - 8 1/2" x 13"
3. Lining sides: from lining fabric and iron-on vinyl - cut 2 - 10" x 24 1/2" 
4. Lining bottom: from lining fabric, iron-on vinyl, and Pellon Peltex - cut 1 - 8 1/2" x 13"

1. Fuse exterior sides to lightweight interfacing.
2. Fuse exterior bottom to Pellon Peltex (71F).
3. Fuse lining sides to iron-on vinyl.
4. Fuse lining bottom to Pellon Peltex.
5. Fuse lining bottom/Peltex to iron-on vinyl.

Fusing the lining bottom.

Using your bag pieces as a pattern, trace and cut the sides and bottom. To make sewing this together easier, use a fabric marker and mark the middle point of the bottom pieces and at the bottom of the side pieces. You'll line these marks up as you sew the side to the bottom.

Using the bag piece as a template, mark the placement of your feet on the exterior bottom piece. This is where the feet get screwed on.

With an awl or tip of scissors, carefully poke a hole in the bottom fabric on your marks. Screw feet in place on the wrong side of the exterior bottom.

And you'll see my marks -- this helps me line things up when I sew it together.

MAKE STAYS (optional): Next I cut my stays - 2 1/4" x 9" - I referred to the original stays to determine how to press them. Once I got this together, I realized that the bag was sturdy enough so I didn't need these. UPDATE: after carrying this around, I'd recommend the stays! They do a great job supporting the tote.

START SEWING: Sew the side pieces together using a 3/8" seam - I double checked this to make sure it was the same as the original seam allowance. Press seams open. If you would like to add the stays, sew those in now.

Sew side piece to the bag bottom, RST, using a 3/8" seam. You may have to clip the rounded corners to make it fit.

Pinch bottom of the bag at the seam to flatten it out. If you need to, lightly press it flat along that seam.

You are done with the outside! Time to get to work on the lining.

SEW LINING: Sew the sides of the lining pieces together using a 3/8" seam. Then lining up your marks, sew to bottom of lining using a 3/8" seam. 

You may have to clip the corners to get this to fit --  and it might not fit perfectly. Not a big deal - I would imagine that the original bag was a bit wonky!

Done! Cut seam to about 1/4" or so. This removes some bulk in the bottom.

Place lining inside of the exterior (WST) and baste the two together along the top using a 1/4" or so seam.

I used my regular foot - it didn't stick to the vinyl - and sewed on the lining fabric. I found this easier to do.

DONE! And yes, that's a cat bed in the background!

At this point I was convinced that this would not fit in the frame. The shape seem all wrong. But it fit!

ADD BIAS TAPE: Bias tape has two sides - one is longer than the other. Place the shorter side on the INSIDE of the bag and sew it on - lining up the edge of the bias tape with the edge of the bag. Sew in the crease.

BTW, I began at the side seam. Remember to fold over the end so it's finished!

Once you are done, fold the bias tape over to the exterior side. Carefully sew the bias tape on. If you did this correctly, the middle crease should fit perfectly over the top edge of the bag!

Bias tape is all sewn on!


ADD VELCRO: Get your velcro out (that you ripped off the original tote). You may have to refer to an original bag to see how it's sew on. This is why I always keep one around! I have ten pieces.

Sew one on each end. This will be your starting point. The empty space between each piece of velcro is roughly 3 5/8" -- roughly - it won't be perfect.

Measure and mark 3 5/8" from the edge of the velcro. I sewed two parallel rows of stitches.

Line up the next piece of velcro at this mark and sew it on. Work your way around the bag.


The bottom of both bags. The Peltex really makes the bottom more stable.

You may be able to find a collapsible market tote at other stores - the main thing to look for is a removable outside bag. I've seen some that won't come off.


UPDATE! Want to add an embroidery design? Read about the Market Tote: Monogrammed.


  1. Love it! What a great way to 'upcycle' to something you like and are proud to use :)

  2. I have some blank market totes to embroider and I have been struggling to figure out how to do it on my machine. Never occurred to me to deconstruct the tote, embroider, then put back together. Thanks!

  3. Anyone know where you can buy just the frames for the market baskets?

    1. I have never seen the "frame only" - maybe because you need to use the fabric basket as the pattern. I have three different market totes from three different companies and they are all different sizes. But Five Below had them for the lowest price I could find! Good luck!

  4. I wish I could find a company that just sells the aluminum frame! Lots of searching online, no luck. If you have found a distributor, please share. Thanks!

    1. I agree. I haven't found anyone who sells the frame. The $5 tote at FiveBelow is the cheapest I've seen this produce! Good luck!


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